From Sand (Part 1)

SKU: 884501653923
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Second album from this Brazilian/American progressive metal band. The Element was assembled by Brazilian transplant Rafael Macedo who handles all the lead vocals and guitars. He's enlisted Circle II Circle bassist Mitch Stewart, former Imagika drummer Henry Moreno, as well as keyboardist Jeremy Villucci. The band's music bears the imprint of the obvious prog metal influence of Dream Theater but there is definitely an epic Pink Floyd quality to their music. Sort of like Images & Words meets The Wall. Macedo's vocals are excellent and he's quite an accomplished guitarist as well. Nice and tasteful soloing through out without turning into a nonstop shredfest - an album that seems to put melody at the forefront but with a solid foundation in musicianship. This arrives beautifully packaged in a DVD sized fold out digipak. I think this is a band we are going to hear a lot about. Highly recommended.

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  • Its been a bit quiet on the prog metal front as of late but hopefully this new band from Norway will shake things up a bit. Dimension Act pretty much adheres to the Dream Theater formula although there is a healthy injection of prog rock as well. Plenty of keyboard solos to go around and killer guitar work. If you rachet down the complexity one notch you will be reminded a little bit of Spheric Universe Experience.
  • Exile is the long awaited third album from this British progmetal band.  To-Mera is fronted by Julie Kiss with the principal songwriting coming from guitarist (and her husband) Tom MacLean.  Some of you may recognize Tom's name from his membership in Haken as their bassist.  It gets slightly more confusing as Haken's main composer/guitarist/keyboardist is To-Mera's keyboardist Richard "Hen" Henshall.  Yes life can get complicated sometimes.The new album is a conceptual work about human existence.  Ms. Kiss' vocals flow like a constant river over some real bad ass and complex prog metal.  At times MacLean breaks out some incredible fusion leads taking the band in a whole different direction.  Hen's keys have a very specific sound.  At times you will be reminded for a moment of the Haken sound but in general this doesn't sound like a Haken album.  The album does feature some special guests...Marcela Bovio (Stream Of Passion), Stefan Forte (Adagio), and Ray Hearne (Haken) all make appearances.  An intricate and involving listen, this is easily going to be one of 2012's best metal releases.  Highly recommended.
  • 2nd album from Swedish power metal band with strong neoclassical elements. 
  • Creation's End is the vision of New York City's Rudy Albert (guitar - from Zandelle) and Dario Rodriguez (drums).Rudy and Dario, who met in school, have been playing music together since 1999. As they grew tighter in their playing, they began to focus on writing original material. The nature of the material evolved from simple metal tunes in the early years, to more complex and mature compositions.During the summers of 2003 through 2006, Dario and Rudy convened to write music. The focus of the sessions was simply to make great music that they both enjoyed, and each summer, Rudy and Dario wrote and recorded a new demo of original material.Rudy soon took on keyboard duties in the band Until Destiny, where he met John Macaluso (drummer of James LaBrie Band, Fool's Game, ex-Ark, ex-TNT, ex-Yngwie Malsteen). After a short period of time, Rudy and Dario decided that the time was right to revisit their old material to record and release it the right way.With a newly renovated studio and producer John Macaluso on board, Rudy and Dario set out to record 8 reworked versions of songs that appeared on their demos. They were joined by the lineup - Mike Dimeo, (ex-Masterplan, ex-Riot), Marco Sfogli (James LaBrie Band), and Joey Bones (Chris Caffery, ex-Zandelle).In Summer of 2010 the band decided to have world known engineer Neil Kernon (Queensryche, Yes, Nile, Cannibal Corpse etc) mix the album.November 2010 will see the release of "A New Beginning" and marks the fruition of the album envisioned from the beginning - melodic, touches of prog, a strong sense of groove, and brutally heavy and dark. US and European tour dates are being planned, with a date at ProgPower USA in September 2011 already confirmed.
  • Canadian stoner/doom band with a vocalist that sounds just like Ozzy."Sheavy's follow-up to their stunning The Electric Sleep, titled Celestial Hi-Fi, starts right where the band left off. If you thought the last album was good, get a load of this one, because you won't believe your ears. Songs like "Hyperfaster," "Solarsphere" or "Tales from the Afterburner" would fit in perfectly with the impressive cuts on The Electric Sleep, while "At the Mountains of Madness," "Strange Gods, Strange Altars" and "Persona" confirm the impossible: Sheavy has improved. Yes, these gargantuan gods of rock have gotten better since the last album. "What's Up Mr. Zero?" shows Sheavy moving further into unexplored territory through their effective use of melody and harmony, while the title track and the sinister "Persona" exploit the tried and true use of surprising time changes and effective groove, to toy with our fragile minds. Every song has the perfect amount of fuzz, leads and groove in just the right places carefully crafted structure, and Mr. Hennessey's distinctive vocals, there's nothing more to ask for. Just as good, if not better than The Electric Sleep, Celestial Hi-Fi is sheer perfection, once again." -
  • Long awaited debut from this Dutch progressive metal band. I say long awaited because this band was put together by ex-Forever Times guitarist Martijn Balsters back in 2003 and have been demoing and going through lineup changes ever since. Finally things are stable and we have an excellent slab of silver on our hands. The music has a contemporary feel but still lots of intricacies in the arrangements. Martijn serves up the crunch quite nicely thank you and it works well against Sander Heerings symphonic keys. I'm particular drawn to the vocals of Jeroen Voogd. He's very expressive adding a nice amount of angst and drama. Quality prog metal has been on lean times lately but The Dust Connection delivers the goods. Highly recommended.
  • "With a career spanning 25 years, German Heavy Metal / Hard Rockers AXXIS have come around with a sequel to their first full length, "Kingdom Of The Night". It's a real wonder why these metal veterans are as underrated as they are. The sequel is as Glam and driving as the genre gets, sure to draw in fans of EDGUY, GAMMA RAY and SCORPIONS.The title track is a solid opener, with synth and guitar-driven riffs reminiscent of modern EDGUY and lyrics that are the coy kind of cheesy that you can't help but enjoy. Listen on if you are enjoying the screamingly obvious domination of catchy and melodic hooks, since they dominate this track and the majority of the album. "The War" is a driving, mid-tempo groove with ingeniously creative riffs, again with the band's ever-present catchy chord and melodic progressions. Again, this is another track which may be respectfully compared to EDGUY, particularly their slightly more progressive "Age of the Joker". I thoroughly enjoyed that album, so I stress this to be taken as a compliment!"Soulfire" is a more upbeat track that blends slightly more aggressive riff construction, with liquid, melodic and easy-listening verses, and terrifically powerful choruses, where Bernhard's seemingly safe voice displays an impressive range. This track especially conveys the pop-infused infectiousness of 80's Glam with modern Power / Heavy Metal. "Bites Inside" display a somewhat heavier side to the band, whilst still keeping the immortalized sound of Euro Metal alive and shredding. What really drew me to the track were Bernhard's vocal similarities to Austrian vocalist Georg of SERENITY; both have a graceful, catchy voice with unique, melodic inflections that are capable of surprising displays of power.AXXIS is certainly a band to fit right in with the famous cadre of German Melodic Metal bands aforementioned, with whom they have been known to share various stages; tried and true, Euromelody-infused Heavy Metal." - Metal Temple
  • Withem is an up and coming Norwegian progressive metal band, inspired by the likes of Symphony X, Pagan’s Mind, Dream Theater and Circus Maximus.The band started to take shape in 2011 when Øyvind Voldmo Larsen (guitars) and Ketil Ronold (keyboards) met the gifted drummer Frank Nordeng Røe. Soon they were joined by the vocal talents of Ole Aleksander Wagenius and bass duties were taken care of by the special guest Andreas Blomqvist from Seventh Wonder.Withem’s debut offers varied sonic landscapes for the listener to explore, ranging from guilty-pleasure choruses permeated with memorable vocal hooks, to symphonic epic themes.  The unique vocal range of Ole Aleksander Wagenius gives the band a distinctive touch to tackle the overcrowded progressive metal scene.The passion and dedication put into the album is emphasized by the countless hours spent in studio perfecting each individual performance and making sure that the end result is a world class blend of progressive, symphonic and power metal.The Point Of You was mastered by Markus Teske (Vanden Plas, Saga, Spock's Beard)
  • Limited edition digipak features 2 bonus tracks on the CD as well as a bonus live DVD."There has always been something about Orden Ogan that has made the band step out from the prototypical “Euro-power” boundary…a darkness, if you will. Perhaps it’s the post-apocalyptic “Road Warrior” look of the stage outfits, which ironically fit perfectly with serrated riffs that emote with an industrial edge. Better yet, it is the overall sound combining the beauty of fantasy with a jagged gritty blue collar delivery, as if to laugh in the faces of power purists who demand everything be so “squeaky clean.” Perfection comes in many shades….especially black. I’ve been guilty of calling Orden Ogan the second coming of old Blind Guardian, but that really isn’t fair. Orden Ogan has evolved into so much more, having immersed a trademark sound with elements of the ever influential Blind Guardian and Running Wild, but one that has become so unique it appeals to more than just the average fan of European power metal. With “Ravenhead,” the band has reached its defining moment.When “To the End” was released, there was a distinct separation from the holy trinity of “Easton Hope,” “Vale,” and “Testimonium A.D.,” both in terms of sound and production qualities. It elevated the band to a different level. As classic as the first three albums were, the full effect took some time to grow with multiple listens. I can almost see some of you shaking your heads thinking “Are you kidding? ‘Nobody Leaves,’ ‘We Are Pirates,’ ‘Farewell,’ ‘To New Shores of Sadness,’ ‘The Lords of the Flies’ were ‘instant classics.’” Sure…hindsight and multiple listens would make any of those "correct." In fact, it took “Vale” and much of “Easton Hope” a lot more time to resonate at the time they were released. “To the End” was truly an instant classic and nothing the band wrote before that had such staying power. Now with “Ravenhead,” fans can expect even more of the same – starting immediately with the “masculine humming” of the eponymous intro track.“Orden Ogan” starts off like that opening scene out of “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” with that gang chorus of “Hoist the Colours” (minus the kid). It has a real pirate feel, even more so than Running Wild has ever conjured…only it has nothing to do at all with the age of piracy. “Ravenhead” – the song – kicks in and the band never looks back….saw-toothed riffs from Sebastian Levermann and Tobias Kersting overlay Levermann’s distinctively clean, yet gleefully abrasive, vocals. The chorus jumps out immediately, with no surprise. Orden Ogan has become one of the best at impact choruses and they come no better than what you will hear on “F.E.V.E.R.” This one sticks in the mind so well I’ve found myself subconsciously humming it as I awake each morning. Encircling the chorus is a riff (not too far removed from “Land of the Dead”) and a subtle, but impressive bagpipe. The sheer number of times you'll hear “False believer…true deceiver…she’s the F.E.V.E.R….stealing the life from you” may seem repetitive within in the 4:24 minute track, but it sure is effective!At this point, we get into the real meat of the album, “The Lake” and “Evil Lies in Every Man,” the two best tracks not named “A Reason to Give” (more on this in a bit). “The Lake” starts with a riff like a handsaw to steel…complete with broken teeth and sparks flying everywhere backed by Dirk Meyer-Behorn’s tommy-gun drum strength. “Evil Lies in Every Man” takes the now uneven barbed saw and buzzes through panel board….against the grain! Both songs are deliciously rough in stature, though the album is phenomenally produced (by Levermann himself, who has quickly become one of the best producers in Europe). “Evil Lies in Every Man” has a creepy vibe right from the start as an old woman sings the chorus in an equally craggy voice, a chorus that is the best on the release. The best part, though, is the sudden eruption into a “Prelude to Madness” style with dramatic orchestration at 3:31.“Here at the End of the World” (featuring a guest appearance by Grave Digger’s Chris Boltendahl) ends the torrid and brilliant first half of the release, with a chorus not far removed from Turisas' "The Great Escape." The second half of "Ravenhead" never quite reaches the same stratosphere of energy as the first five songs. “A Reason to Give,” a personal favorite, is another emotional tear-jerking power ballad a la “Take this Light” or “Ice Kings.” Like Blind Guardian, Orden Ogan's ballads are as much a staple as the album's heaviest tracks. That being said, it doesn’t detract an iota from the perfection of this album…it just goes at a more deliberate and “cleaner” pace. “Deaf Among the Blind” is the speediest on the second half and it even has a little tinge of Evergrey (you’ll know it when you hear it). “Sorrow is Your Tale” features a guest vocal appearance from HammerFall’s Joacim Cans and features yet another outstanding chorus in an album chock full of them. Rounding out the album is the instrumental “In Grief and Chains” and the ballad “Too Soon.”“Ravenhead” has it all, with odes to the band’s past and major influences, but a straight line up from the direction of “To the End.” It has even more insanely catchy choruses anchored by saw-toothed riffs and Seeb’s patented clean, yet gnarly vocal style. For Orden Ogan, it gets no better than this. For music, its another victory for songwriting and the right amount of hooks. Germany prevails yet again…and Orden Ogan has the formula to erect a tower that stands eye to “eye of Sauron” with Blind Guardian." - Metal Underground
  • "Pin-Up Went Down are a new French duo…- let it start at the beginning.The whole story started with a myspace friend request. Nowadays I’m getting tired of them due to the continuous indie bands’ request; wanting me to be their fan. And these guys just appeared from the unknown. Oh my god…another one *click*….. OH MY GOD!…so this is it. I was sceptic and became surprised like hell, that this is a great band. I asked them for a promo and they sent me one. Thank you!-…a new French duo consisting Asphodel, the mistress of female activities and Alexis who is responsible for all the instruments can be heard in their music – guitar, bass, keys, electronics, etc. The project started less than one year ago as Carnival in Coal split up and former live drummer Alexis Damien launched this new project, called that time Esthete Piggie. Soon he was joined by Asphodel who can be known from Penubmra or Nowonmai.So I was surprised even more when I saw that big Ascendance Records banner on their profile, I couldn’t believe in my eyes. Ascendance Recs. is a label with the aim of collecting the progressive, experimental or just talented acts having a female voice. It’s a rather new label but already made deals with bands like Stolen Babies and unexpecT. So the name may sound familiar to some of you. - Get to the band!The name itself (which was created in the December 2007) evokes the era(s) of models who got into fashion and became covergirls posing in front of the camera. The words in the name can be considered as an oxymoron (up/down). And the second part of the name has the negative side, the final outcome is the fall of these beautiful creatures.The cover is unusual for an experimental/AG metal band but I suppose I just got used to weird, mindfucking artwork. I would say this is "mirror-avantgarde" quoting Tentakel P.’s Sigh review. It already gives a bit of music, it truly has a gothic line and this cover would perfectly fit a gothic metal band’s album of high standard.Seeing it we will notice the cold, metallic colours. The second thing one sees the vase with a sip of dirty water and the flower. Flower, really? No. It’s a piece of wire put in this glass vase…love is never easy.In the background a left hand’s shadow can be observed trying to grab the heart which is created by mirroring the title’s 2 to the left side. Contrary to the dominating rigid colours, the title is full of life and power with its bloody red appearance.And the music. So as it is written before, it surprised me. The first bit of this mass was a song I have listened on their myspace named Nearly Dead Bat Make up. Particularly, the vocals were the most interesting and outstanding. While listening to it I felt I am in a kind of wonderland. Asphodel is one of the most talented singers I have ever heard. She can sing rigidly, violently but on the other hand she has a definitive gothic background which teaches the girls to sing in a method can be recognized with ease (this style of singing can be heard near the end of the song). But. Yes…these buts. But she has a unique jazzy, though profile and another diverse which is something undefinable, smooth and soft disco styled one and not forget mentioning her childish one. And it’s just the tip of the iceberg. I can’t tell another girl who are able to sing in these ranges…and she combines it with continuous changing of the pitch. Alexis delivers aggressive guitars and drums along with male growled/shouted vocals. I would highlight one moment: under the bridge, Asphodel sings in her disco styled while Alexis growls in the backgrounds and the whole thing explodes as guitars and the shouted vocals come in to form the chorus.Some lyrics have allusions to the various parts of (music) history. Nearly Dead Bat Make up also has a reference to the band Kiss and the people who believed them Satanists and Nazis. Another interesting part of this song is the very beginning, with the lyrics of "Be (-shuuMuut-) obscene, be-be aggressive". It’s a reference to Marilyn Manson’s mOBSCENE which has almost the same female lines originally stolen from Faith No More’s Be Aggressive. (-shuuMuut-) = (shut up M arilyn M anson).On the other hand, some of the lyrics may seem absurd like Pussy Worship which is built around the question girls ask themselves: What is it like being a man while having sex?. Only Some Shitty Chemical Stuff explains love only as a hormonal procession.The lyrics aren’t about one theme and message, they call up for situations, characters and images. Due to this, the music always changes differently and evolves, it follows the lyrics. There isn’t a central style, except the rock and metal basics. Pussy Worship is like pussy pop-punk with a gospel-like inlay. Only Some Shitty Chemical Stuff is an electronical, industrial metal song and first reminded me of the grotesque attitude to love presented in vocals and atmosphere one may know from the music of Rammstein. However, it becomes an acoustical ballad later.To sum up Pin-Up Went Down’s musical debut I must say I am extremely happy to know these two talented musicians with weird fantasies to turn them into reality. Their first album is surprisingly eclectic and delivered with overwhelming musical and vocal production, it’s one of the most promising first-time debut releases of all time of avantgarde music. Not joking." -
  • Stunning third album from these Swedish 70s hard rock revivalists.  Graveyard delve into the same gene pool as Witchcraft but the music is more Yin than Yang.  More Led Zeppelin than Black Sabbath.  Some blues driven psychedelia laced with a bit of phat analog keys drives the point home.  If these guys were around 40 years ago they would have been at the top of the heap. Yeah...they're that good.  Highly recommended.
  • "It has been an eventful year or so in the world of Haken. In September 2013, the sextet released what can only be described as a masterpiece of progressive music in the form of their third album, the magnificent ‘The Mountain’. This album received almost universal critical acclaim upon its release and even led to interest from the likes of Mike Portnoy (Flying Colors, Transatlantic) and Dream Theater’s Jordan Rudess. In the case of the former, it led to an invitation to play the inaugural ‘Progressive Nation At Sea’, but thanks to both ringing endorsements, the door to the American market has opened more widely of late. And if that wasn’t enough, Haken recently received no less than three nominations in the Progressive Music Awards, quite an achievement for a band so relatively young.However, with the smooth, also comes the rough and almost immediately following the release of this ‘breakthrough’ album, bassist Tom MacLean announced his departure from Haken. An apparently amicable split, it was nevertheless a hurdle that had to be overcome at a point when the largest wave of the band’s career was about to be crested. An international audition invitation was extended and, following an extensive search, a young American by the name of Conner Green was assimilated into the Haken collective. Welcome sir!In many ways, ‘Restoration’ a three-track EP is as much a bedding-in of their new colleague as it is an opportunity to maintain the momentum created by ‘The Mountain’ whilst a new full-length album is brought to life. That said, to consider ‘Restoration’ a stop-gap is disingenuous in the extreme. It may only contain three tracks, but when the three tracks last well over half an hour and sound this good, who cares?The three compositions that make up this EP are very loosely based on tracks from the bands 2007/08 demo days, thoroughly re-envisioned, re-worked and re-produced in order to reflect the changing personnel and the experience gained since the demos were originally written. The result is, frankly, stunning.Whilst it took me a good many spins and many hours of effort to get fully submerged into the world of ‘The Mountain’, the music on ‘Restoration’ is much more immediate to these ears. No less complex and challenging of course, but for some reason, the music has ‘clicked’ much more quickly here.The EP opens up with ‘Darkest Light’, (Official video below) an energetic track that ably demonstrates the up-tempo and powerful side of Haken well. It’s an agile composition too that alters pace and timing signatures seemingly at will and pulls in influences from everyone from Dream Theater to Meshuggah. The latter is primarily due to the impressive combination of Ray Hearne’s powerful drumming, the chunky guitar tones courtesy of Charlie Griffiths and Richard Henshall and Green’s intricate bass work. Importantly however, the song is never derivative and contains everything you now expect from a band at the height of their powers. It’s a piece of music that oozes class but also offers that touch of playful cheekiness that has become synonymous with the Haken sound.‘Earthlings’ is a completely different proposition entirely. For my money, its closest reference point would be ‘Deathless’ from ‘Visions’ in so far as it is a much more introspective track with real atmosphere and a quiet, brooding intensity that is utterly beguiling. The melodies are much more immediate, much more pronounced and the whole thing builds beautifully and stubbornly towards a fulfilling climax that pushes all the right buttons.The undisputed star of the show however, is ‘Crystallised’. At over 19 minutes, it offers a return of the Haken ‘epic’, joining the likes of ‘Visions’ and ‘Celestial Elixir’ in an already formidable armoury. If anything, ‘Crystallised’ may be even better than the aforementioned, thereby easily taking its place among the very best that Haken has ever created.First and foremost, the sheer ambition is staggering. The composition begins unassumingly enough but quickly reveals a more grandiose underbelly thanks to some lush orchestral arrangements. From then on, the gloves well and truly come off and Haken take us on a wondrous journey full of twists and turns, light and shade, lengthy and dextrous instrumental segments and gorgeous melodies that stay with you long after the music has ended.There are echoes of those Gentle Giant influences and nods towards ‘Cockroach King’ et al in some of the a capella segments as well as hints of ‘Pareidolia’ at other times, thanks to that by now familiar delivery of vocalist Ross Jennings. Never once do the extended instrumental passages, led by the flamboyant keys of Diego Tejeida feel contrived or out of place; they are full of those classic progressive overindulgences, further reinforcing the importance of the likes of Yes, early Genesis and many others, but crucially, they fit in with the core of the composition and seamlessly segue from one to another perfectly.And then, everything comes together in what I can only describe as a stunningly epic finale, the kind where the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end and you find yourself grinning from ear to ear, enveloped in a musical utopia. The melodies are so uplifting and gorgeous that, coupled with the grandiose return of the orchestral embellishments, mere words find it hard to adequately express just how good it makes you feel.The bones of these songs may have been written many years ago in the band’s infancy. However, they have been brought back to life in the most brilliant way possible; taking everything that’s been good about the band in recent years and applying them to their early past to create something truly special. I only wish that ‘Restoration’ was six, seven or eight songs long. Mind you, if it were, I think I might have fainted from bliss before reaching the conclusion." - Man Of Much Metal blog
  • English vocal version of the third album from this fine Hungarian progressive metal band. Age Of Nemesis (formerly just known as Nemesis) are heavily influenced by Dream Theater, Rush and 70s old school progressive rock. Zoltan Fabian's guitarwork has a wonderful fluid quality that really soars but he adds a good bit of crunch that recals John Petrucci. Vocalist Zoltan Kiss has a great voice that complements the band well. Curiously he displays a more prominent accent than on past efforts but it's not really a distraction. Anyone familiar with their past releases will be extremely satisfied with Terra Incognita as it fits comfortably within the canon. So don't expect any surprises - just some great melodic progressive metal with an emphasis on the progressive side. Highly recommended.
  • Following two highly successful tours with established Progressive metalists PAIN OF SALVATION and two years of exacting work, DARK SUNS have finished their third album "Grave Human Genuine.""Grave Human Genuine" – this unconventional title was chosen with care and purpose, as it represents the three characteristic elements of this work: "Grave" signifies darkness, the sinister force, and the inevitable fate. "Human" is synonymous with the music’s inherent soul-depth, while "Genuine" means "real" or "authentic" and hence refers to DARK SUNS’ uncompromising approach to music.But what about the music? DARK SUNS don’t merely pick up where the successful predecessor "Existence" (2005) left off, they present themselves as many-facetted as never before. A clear nod to Doom, complex polyrhythms, unusual and diverse instruments and, last but not least, drummer NIKO KNAPPE’s characteristic yearning vocals comprise the album’s cornerstones. The variety of sounds stretches from angular Metal riff attacks via atmospheric ambient soundscapes and Techno reminiscences to Avant-garde influences – despite this complexity, an accomplished musical mosaic of enormous expressiveness.Exciting nuances are created by the incomparable bass of Pain Of Salvation’s long-time member KRISTOFFER GILDENLÖW, a friendly turn that resulted from the tours mentioned above, and DISILLUSION’s SCHMIDT’s guest vocals in "Flies In Amber."With "Grave Human Genuine," DARK SUNS have created a haunting album full of autonomy and instrumental class, self-consciously charting new musical territory. In this, the band from Leipzig embodies the essence of every true progressive band: compositional genius coupled with advancement. The dark suns radiate: gloomy, human and egregiously genuine.